Tuesday, May 6, 2014

L. Ron Hubbard Presents Writers of the Future, Volume 30 edited by Dave Wolverton

L. Ron Hubbard has been many different things to many different people, and it is undeniable that his legacy is tainted for many people.  However, everyone can agree that one of Hubbard’s greatest contributions to science fiction and fantasy is the Writers of the Future competition, which has jumpstarted the early careers of many writers who have gone on to make an impact in the field.  Each year, the top stories from the competition are put together in a book, along with articles on the craft from well-known writers.  Each story is illustrated by winners of the Illustrators of the Future competition, making the book a multimedia approach to the next generation of writers in the field.  This year, in L. Ron Hubbard Presents Writers of the Future, Volume 30, stories by Orson Scott Card and Mike Resnick, both judges of the competition, are also included, along with a story from L. Ron Hubbard himself.

As with any anthology, especially an unthemed one, the contents have the potential to be a mixed bag, and this year was no different.  Some of the stories felt a little flat, while others showed potential.  However, the one that really gripped me and had the strength I was looking for was “Beneath the Surface of Two Kills” by Shauna O’Meara, which followed a hunter who is struggling with the ethics of killing.  It was a gripping story with a strong protagonist that wasted no time getting to its emotional impact. 

The essays are rather middling, with a pedantic list from Hubbard and an essay that is mostly direct quotes from previous essays in the series by Robert Silverberg.  It all felt rather uninspired.

Perhaps it is a sign that the future of the genre is not where my tastes lie, but I didn’t find this volume as gripping as I had hoped.  Fans of the series will enjoy the new crop of stories, but for people looking for polished, exciting tales, this book may be worth a skip.

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